Winter will soon be upon us and while many photographers revel in the unique opportunities for winter photography, I always look forward to spring in the southern Appalachian Mountains with my camera in hand. My annual visits there quite literally put a spring in my step. Birds sing for mates from the newly green trees, waterfalls flow from spring rains, flowers bloom in profusion and it seems that the whole world is new again.
There is no shortage of people willing to tell you what you should be doing. One of the great joys of nature photography is being out in the field, away from all those people who are trying to run our lives. So, how great is it when someone actually asks you what they should be doing?
“There are no rules for Technique, only solutions. Today’s Darkrooms may soon be replaced with electronic consoles. Yet after thirty years, Steiglitz’s advice to me remains constant: ‘The only thing that matters is the finished photograph.’ “
Arnold Newman, 1965
As a teacher of photography, I often quote Arnold Newman because he is speaking about the essence of creating a meaningful photograph.
My background is in the traditional, large-format, black and white school of photography of Edward Weston in the 1920s, and later of Ansel Adams. I worked with a camera similar to that used by Weston and Adams, an 8”x10” view camera, so called so because the film was 8×10 inches. My camera, ten film holders, and tripod together weighed 40 pounds. Cumbersome equipment, but that was just the way it was if you wanted to make high quality images. Back in the 60’s and 70’s it was called fine art photography.
Many years have passed but the basic principals are the same. In the dark room we could crop the image, increase or decrease exposure, increase or decrease contrast, burn and dodge areas to lighten or darken those areas selectively. We can do all this and more now with more ease than ever before. Continue reading →